All posts by Paula Gooch

About Paula Gooch

I am a daughter of the King, our Most High God. He has given His all for me and so my response is to live my life for His glory and His praise! {Isaiah 43:21, "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall [show] forth My praise."} The Christian life is about a response. We don't "have to do" certain things to receive God's mercies - Christ has already accomplished all that needs to be done! But since God gave His all for us, as we soak in that Truth and as God opens our spiritual eyes, our natural response is to praise and worship Him simply because He is worthy. That is why we serve, why we love the unlovable, why we pour out - not because we are "forced" to do it, but because once we've tasted and we've seen the Living Christ, how could we not praise Him, how could we not pour out our lives for Him, how could we not lay every crown at His feet?! {Psalm 34:8a, "O taste and see that the Lord is good"} It is my hope and prayer that as you read what I write, it would draw you into worshipping, praising, and glorifying our King. Let all that I say point you back to Christ who is the Only One Worthy. My last remark is to say that in Revelation 12:11, it says the people of God overcame the devil by the Blood of the Lamb (what was already done on the Cross which we cannot do in and of our own merit) and by the word of our testimony (which is God's faithfulness in our lives). I invite you to drop on in as I share little bits and pieces of God's faithfulness in my life and I pray you leave encouraged in Christ! All because He is worthy!!! ~Paula

RFKC Friday Update: The Goodbyes

It was time to say goodbye. We were outside in the blazing hot sun in the early afternoon. Any of the four other previous days, around the same time in the afternoon, the kids could easily be heard splashing and laughing in the pool, seen putting together Lego masterpieces, cheered on as they bounced basketballs, or watched doing a variety of other fun activities. But not so on this day. Today it is Friday and instead of all the fun activities in afternoon, we are waiting to load the kids on the bus.

While the luggage is put on the buses and everything else gets prepared before the kids’ leave, to pass the time, the kids and volunteers sign each other’s t-shirts. Also, the counselors get an opportunity to give their campers the specially made memory book filled with pictures and notes from the week.

Last year, I remember in particular, one graduating girl who was walking around with a poster board piece that she was asking everyone to sign. She asked me to sign and I gladly did. She was in tears and could hardly speak a word. It was so hard to look at her like that. This was her last year at camp. In fact, these were her last couple of moments at this very special place.

It is challenging to say goodbye after pouring out on these kids every last ounce of love we have (and all week long, God seemingly continues to fill us up with more of His love to pour out). Even in their cussing, kicking, running off, and hating, when God gives us His heart for them, somehow we love them in the messes. Not only does His love in us for the kids make it difficult to watch them leave, but also the fact that it is truly “goodbye.” We cannot promise to see them at camp next year, we cannot excitedly exclaim, “See you in heaven!”, and we cannot be certain we will ever see them again.

In these moments, the one thing we can take comfort in, is the knowledge that the Lord holds these precious children in His hands. He is their Savior, He is their Good Shepherd, and He is their hope. He will protect them and continue to direct their steps. So though we cannot make promises to the children about the future, the greatest thing is that we know the One who holds both the kids and their futures – and He is surely trustworthy.

Though this particular girl may never come back to camp again – though we do not know if any of these kids will ever come back to camp whether or not they are graduating this year – we submit them to the Lord. All we can do is ask Him to continue to lead them nearer to Himself!

Specific Prayer Requests:

  • As we say goodbye, please pray that God will comfort our hearts. Pray that though we may grieve and be broken, we do not grieve as those without hope because we know God holds the kids and their futures in His very hands.
  • For those of us riding on the bus ride back home with the kids, please pray that God will give us the words to say and will lead us in our interactions with the kids. Pray for God to give us strength and grace as we spend the last few moments with the kids.
  • As the kids re-adjust to “home life”, whatever that may be, pray they will be received back by their caregivers well.
  • Pray God will continue to speak to the campers even after they leave camp. Pray that He will soften their hearts and that they will turn to Him and seek a personal relationship with Him. Pray for their brokenness and past hurts to be healed in Jesus’ love.

RFKC Wednesday Update: Give Our All

It’s pretty humbling that some of the kids at camp have never celebrated their birthday before. So the fun event on Wednesday night at camp is a huge Birthday Party for everyone!

After the fun games are finished, the cupcakes are eaten, and it’s time to head back to the cabins, it could be the hardest night to put the campers to bed. They have just had a whole bunch of sugar, received a bunch of great gifts, and just do not want to sleep. And yet, what is also hovering over some of their minds is the fact that the next day, Thursday, is their last FULL day at camp.

Both the volunteers and kids experience a lot of emotions at camp. I think it is pretty accurate to say that Wednesday night/Thursday morning provides a turning point for everyone.

The kids start to realize they only have one full day left at camp. Many of these kids, because of what they have been through, are very resilient. Therefore, some of them may begin holding back and shut us out to protect themselves because they know we will say goodbye on Friday.

At this point, as counselors and staff, we are all faced with an important decision: we can either hold back ourselves because it is hurts to bid them farewell or we can choose to continue pouring out all for them despite the fact that it may be very painful to load them on the bus on Friday.

The first year I attended camp, I distinctly remember being challenged during our staff “chapel time” on Thursday to not check out emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. We were encouraged to continue to be present to the kids at camp. If we refrain from giving our all, we will regret it later. Instead, we must continue to pour out every ounce of strength and energy, trusting that God will supply us with even more of His – and He so faithfully does.

The good news is that we, as camp volunteers, are not the kids’ savior. That may seem quite obvious, but I remember crying out to the Lord, “Why can’t we take them all home with us?!” But that’s not why we go to camp. Christ is their Savior. He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep each by name. He has called these kids to camp and us His people to serve at camp. So, we can put on a smile (even through the tears and the brokenness of our hearts) as they leave so that they can know their Savior, Jesus, is the One who holds them in the very palm of His hands and He has a perfect plan for their future.

Specific Prayer Requests:

  • For the Birthday Party, please pray that through all the fun events and celebrating, the kids will know God has specially made them and He loves them so much.
  • Pray for those who help put the kids to bed on Wednesday night! Pray for God’s peace to be upon everyone.
  • Pray that even if the children start to hold back, they will continue to receive the truth, be receptive of God’s love, and experience what He has brought them to camp for. Pray the kids will focus on enjoying the present moment and not spend the time focusing on leaving camp.
  • Pray that each volunteer will continue to showcase the love of Jesus in our every action. Although it will hurt us to say goodbye, pray we will give our all and not hold back in an effort to avoid the pain. Pray for strength to not check out but rather to pour out all on them.
  • For the girl’s Tea Party tomorrow afternoon, please pray God reveals to them His tender love and care. Pray He will show them what a godly man is like through the men God has called to camp this week.

Royal Family Kids Camp Prayer

I was standing in a very familiar place, and yet, with an uncertainty in my heart. I was hesitant; I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t want to make a big mistake. But God knew what I was doing and He never makes mistakes.

It was a few years ago before I attended Royal Family Kids Camp. I was simply assisting with the RFKC check-in on Monday morning. I was nervous – afraid I might do something wrong – yet excited – hoping that somehow God would use me in that time. What I didn’t realize was the big way God would use that time for me.

Into the room stepped three children and a woman, but only two of the children were old enough to go. So, two of the children put on their name tags and t-shirts, had their pictures taken, and then almost forgot to say goodbye. But as they turned back to bid farewell to the woman and the other child, I was blown away with what I saw. That cute little boy was standing in the middle of the room, unreserved tears flowing down his face. He was probably saying goodbye to those dearest to him.

Like him, the children coming to camp will have to say goodbye – to a caregiver, a brother, or a sister. It may be very difficult for them to leave those they know and go to camp – where perhaps they have never been before. Some of the kids may have an easier time because they have attended before and are just looking forward to the fun.

Some of the campers may have butterflies in their stomachs. Perhaps they too will cry. They might not know who will be their counselor or which other kids will be with them in their cabin. For some, perhaps they have no clue what camp is even like. And yet, for others, they are unsure if they should trust anyone at camp especially since their very own parents who they should be able to trust abused or neglected them.

Yet in the meantime, many miles away, another story altogether is taking place as nearly 90 volunteers will be preparing the camp, the cabins, and our hearts to graciously receive each child the Lord will bring to us to care for during the week. Some of us may be rushing around doing some last-minute decorating in our cabins or others might be wandering around seeing the various creative cabin themes. Most of us will be spending the morning in the Word, in prayer and preparing our hearts for the week that God has in store. As we eat lunch in the peaceful dining hall, we may very well also have butterflies in our stomachs. Nervous for what this week will entail, but so very expectant for the Lord to use us in the week.

Specific Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for the children who are too young to go to camp but whose siblings are attending camp. Pray for the RFKC alumni who are too old to attend camp to continue to trust the Lord and hope in Christ even if they are disappointed they cannot go to camp. Pray that God will comfort their hearts during the week.
  • Pray each child will feel very welcomed and loved from the moment they arrive at camp until them moment they leave.
  • Pray for God to prepare the hearts of the kids and the hearts of the volunteers. Pray that He will speak to each of us through the week. Pray He will give us His eyes to see what he sees and His heart for the children. Pray as volunteers, He will break our hearts for what breaks His.

The Moment of Shock

There he stood by the tree. A little boy in his swim trunks, ready and waiting for the short time he could spend in the pool that day. After all, he only had one opportunity each day to swim and this was definitely something that could not be missed. We were at Royal Family Kid’s Camp – a week-long summer camp for abused kids.

Then he looked up and seemingly out of the blue, he yelled a cuss word at me.

“Huh?” I hesitantly replied, uncertain of what else I should say.

Instead of just moving on and forgetting about it like I had hoped he would do, he repeated himself.

A shrug of my shoulders and a smile was the only way I thought how to respond when he shouted out the foul language for the second time. And perhaps that was the best way to react because that little boy stared at me in unbelief. He stood still, eyes glued to me – shocked and confused that the word he yelled at me would cause such a calm response. Unsure of what to do, he stayed motionless for what seemed like several minutes. I imagine many thoughts of bewilderment were running through his mind in those moments. Many thoughts were also racing through mine as I was not confident in how to handle this situation. But then after those few quiet moments passed, without saying another word, he turned and walked away.

I wonder how many times he has said that very same word to an abusive mother who only beat him harder in return or to his deadbeat father who left to never see him again. Though I do not know the details of what this little boy’s past was truly like, I would venture to assume it includes painful experiences I do not even want to imagine and was void of the true love of Christ every human being so desperately needs.

Maybe – just maybe – the way God prompted me to react to his swearing was a testimony to him of Jesus’ unconditional, unfailing love. It is possible that God used this in his life to show him that God forgives him, loves him, and can make his life new again in Christ. Even though I was not able to see the outcome of this interaction with the boy, I can trust that God can turn him to Jesus.

So that’s why we go – to be vessels through which God can pour forth His love on these precious children. It will be hard – I have no doubt – to love them through the frustrating moments during the week only to watch them walk on the bus and wave goodbye. Yet, it will be so very good because we have the beautiful opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet to these hurting, broken foster kids He loves so dearly. As we take this week to spend time with these kids, I am confident that God will give us a taste of His heart and use this week to not only change the kids’ hearts, but also ours.

Beyond Braided Hair and Costly Attire

Woman reading a book on the seashore

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV

 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works. 1 Timothy 2:8-10 ESV

 As I read these Scripture verses, I am reminded that our life is not to be consumed with our clothing choices and what we choose to wear.  We should not use our attire to draw attention to ourselves.  I used to be so focused on how I looked and what I was going to put on each day.  I was consuming myself with thoughts such as: “Is this outfit cute?  What if I wore this certain skirt with this blouse and these shoes and that necklace?”  Many times I was less concerned about the particular event I was attending and was more consumed with how I was going to look when I got there.

But – to God’s glory – He allowed something to shift in my life.  He caused me to realize that how I look is really not as important as I was making it to be.  And I cannot say that I do not care at all about what I wear, but I do not focus on that so much anymore.  Now, God has given me the desire to dress in a way that honors and reflects Christ to those around me.  When others come in contact with me, the one thing they should walk away thinking about is Jesus – not me.  I can communicate this in a number of ways, one of which is how I present myself in what I wear.

Romans 12:1-2 NASB says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Here we are cautioned to not conform to the ways of the world and exhorted to offer our bodies a living and holy sacrifice to the Lord.  Also, the verses above from 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Peter 3 warns us to not let our adorning be the external – gold jewelry, braided hair, fine pearls, and costly attire.  This is not to say that we should just throw on sweats and a t-shirt every day of the week or go to the store in our pajamas.  We should take careful thought for what we wear.  After all, we are temples of the Holy Spirit and we have been bought with a price, “so glorify God in your body.”  As 1 Timothy 2 also states, we are to dress in modesty, honoring God with what we put on.  Instead of building our lives around what we should (or even what we should not) wear, let us build our lives around who we are clothed in – Jesus Christ.

As Christian women, we should not be concerned so much with how we look, but rather, we should be consumed with the beauty of Christ and let His beauty flow through us, triumphing over any piece of jewelry or dress we can purchase at the mall.

Talking Fashion with Lea & Chelsea Gooch

Aug 2014_130In writing about fashion this month, I interviewed some very helpful fashion experts – my older missionary sisters, Lea and Chelsea!  I hope you are encouraged by their insights.

How and when did God first awaken you to desire to dress modestly?

Lea: When I really began seeking God more for myself, I began to understand why modesty was important and began to adopt my own standards based on what I believed.  I read several books that changed the way I thought about modesty, and found that as I pursued Jesus, I realized how clothing (and modesty) is an area of my life that I can use to honor Him and bless those around me.

Chelsea: When I was around 15 and I gave my life to God on a deeper level, He began to convict me about dressing modestly.  We had never been allowed to wear immodest things growing up, so it wasn’t a huge shift for me on the outside.  Internally though, God began to give me a desire to honor Him with my clothing and to dress cutely yet without drawing undue attention to myself.

Do you have standards for what you wear?  How did you decide these standards?

Lea: I do have standards for what I wear, and most of them I decided because of how certain things felt on me.  Some clothes make me just feel cute and pretty and others make me feel uncomfortable, like I’m drawing the attention to me instead of to Christ.  Sometimes I find it helpful to ask friends and people I respect what they think of certain clothing items, and I’ve also read a few books that gave me different perspectives and insights as to what might and might not be distracting to others.

It’s also important for me to remember not to judge those with different standards than mine.  The Bible doesn’t have specific regulations for skirt-length or bathing-suit style, and my standards are what He has convicted me of, not someone else.  My job is not to judge whether or not others are being modest—but to make sure I am walking in obedience to Him.

How do you keep up with fashion trends now and make them your own in a Godly way?

Chelsea: One thing I find very helpful in trying keep up with the fashion, yet not compromise my standards is to layer things.  I have lots of modest camis that I layer under cute, but lacking tops.  I also sometimes layer dress pants or looser leggings under dresses that aren’t quite long enough.

Since summer is fast approaching, do you have practical tips for dressing modestly in hot weather?

Chelsea: When I can’t help it, I just “grin and bear it” as far as hot weather and modest clothing go!  I figure it’s more important to be modest than to be comfortable.

But some things I do to help stay cool when I can are: choose tops that don’t need layers, cut off my old pants to make modest-length shorts that I’m comfortable in (rather than attempting to buy shorts that aren’t too short for me!), and wearing skirts that allow airflow.

Do you want to share any words of encouragement?

Lea: My biggest encouragement would be to remind you ladies that we are clothed in Christ.  Far more important than what we wear is the awe-inspiring reality that when we are Christians, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we can enter the throne room of God based on His righteousness and goodness and not our own.  That is one of the most incredible things we can ever know or experience!  Dressing modestly and fashionably is simply another area of our life where we can display the beauty, joy, and life of Christ.  I would encourage you to bring it to God in prayer, and ask Him how you can dress to showcase His glory and beauty with your life and not your own.  When we seek Him first, all these things, like clothing, fall into place like He promised (see Matthew 6).  He is an amazing God!

Chelsea: …it is possible to dress classy and cute, yet modest!  I know for myself that it can be so discouraging when I look at the options out there and think about how to dress in a fashionable, God-honoring way.  Culture certainly doesn’t make it easy for us.  But God is eager to help us when we truly want to honor Him with our clothing choices.  With a little creativity and His grace, we can glorify Him in this important area of our lives!

 

PS. Lea mentioned books that she had read. Here are two that she recommended: Passion and Purity and The Lost Art of True Beauty.

The Least of These

Feeding the poor
In Matthew 25:31-46, Christ says: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In our humanity, we can easily come up with excuses.  We say, “But Lord, um, when did we not minister to You?”  As Keith Green states in his song The Sheep and The Goats, “…The only difference between the sheep and the goats, according to this Scripture, is what they did and didn’t do.”

Hospitality does not necessarily mean using china dishes, cleaning the house perfectly, or making an extravagant meal.  It also does not simply occur when friends come over to our house for an evening meal.  Rather, in Christ’s strength, we can be hospitable anywhere and anytime.  The question is not whether or not we swept the kitchen or made a bouquet for the table.  Instead, it is: What is attitude of our hearts?  Are we willing to reach out to those in need?  Are we willing to love “the least of these” unconditionally, without reserve, pouring all out simply for their sakes?  Or are we striving to come up with reasons why we cannot minister, reasons why we should just pass by on the other side, and reasons why we are not the ones God should use for the job?

In inviting others into our lives or entering into theirs, we are to have one goal: to point to Jesus.  Whether or not we have it “all put together”, God simply desires to use us as His vessels to point others to Himself.

Let us throw off all the distractions and excuses, enter into other’s pain or messy lives, and trust God for the outcome because He can truly make beautiful things out of us!

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If you are looking for ways to love “the least of these”, consider being a part of Royal Family Kids Camp this summer. This is wonderful opportunity to be Jesus on display!